Eggplant was not my friend until I learned how good it can be when it’s fresh or if you’ve salted it to remove any bitterness. Eggplant is plentiful at the farmstands and farmer’s markets right now, and lends itself to so many dishes, including a rolatini with goat cheese and pesto.
For tonight’s dinner, I started with this lovely eggplant smothered in charmoula marinade recipe and altered it to omit frying the eggplant and to make it into a heartier main dish with a bed of lentils.
With fresh corn only around for a few more weeks, it’s been making its way into everything, including this dish and soup. Instead, you could use thawed frozen corn or replace the corn with roasted sweet potato.
This dish along with a salad would round out dinner. I’m also taking advantage of the fresh tomato crop, and served the charmoula with this scalloped tomato gem.
Eggplant, lentils, and corn with charmoula sauce
2 medium eggplants, about 1 ½ pounds
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided
1 tsp sweet paprika
Pinch or more of hot or smoked paprika
¾ tsp and ½ tsp cumin
4 TBS finely chopped cilantro, divided
4 TBS finely chopped fresh parsley, divided
4 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil, about 1/3 cup, divided
1 cup lentils, rinsed and sorted
1 bay leaf
¼ cup chopped toasted walnuts
½ cup cooked corn or more, from 1 to 2 ears of corn
1. Start by slicing the eggplant into 3/4 –inch rounds and sprinkle lightly on both sides with salt. Put in a colander, cover with a cloth, and put a heavy pot or full tea kettle on top for 30 minutes to help the eggplant release bitter juices.
2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Make the charmoula: in a small bowl, mix together half the garlic, both paprika, ¾ tsp cumin, half the parsley and cilantro, lemon juice, and 3 TBS olive oil. Set the sauce aside.
3. Pat the eggplant slices dry with paper towels and brush each lightly with olive oil. Put them on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake until soft and browned, turning once, 25-35 minutes.
4. While the eggplant is baking, cook the lentils. Put the lentils, remaining garlic, ½ tsp of cumin, and bay leaf in a medium pot. Cover with 1 inch of water, bring to a boil, then cover and cook over low heat so lentils are bubbling gently. Cook until tender, 20-30 minutes, and check occasionally to make sure there’s enough water in the pot so lentils don’t burn. When lentils are fully cooked, remove from the heat and remove the bay leaf. If the pot contains water, pour the lentils into a strainer or colander to drain the extra water, and then put them back in the cooking pot. Mix in half the charmoula mixture, a pinch of the cilantro and parsley, the toasted walnuts and corn, and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Put the lentil mixture on a plate, top with the eggplant slices, and then spoon the remaining charmoula on the eggplant. Sprinkle with the cilantro and parsley. Let stand for one hour and then serve at room temperature.